It’s the most wonderful time of the year… That’s right, folks—last Friday, December 1st was Spotify Wrapped Day! For my readers who don’t have Spotify and instead use some abominable alternative like Apple Music or Pandora ( yuck), let me briefly explain to you all the wonders of Spotify Wrapped. It’s essentially a ten-and-a-half month AI analysis of your music listening habits, with stats ranging from collecting your top songs and genres to more obscure deductions like what zodiac sign your music tastes align with.
My top artists this year were, in descending order–Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Taylor Swift, The Aces, and Boygenius. All five of those aforementioned artists/bands have had new releases this past year, so it’s no surprise I had them on heavy rotation these past few months. T. Swift in particular has been popping up everywhere— although sadly no one in my inner circle chipped in to the nationally renowned non-profit charity named “Andrea C. Gutierrez” to help me buy concert tickets.
Some people think Spotify Wrapped is frivolous at best and downright dangerous at worst–where useful idiots give faceless companies even more of their personal data for no reason. Others think it’s really neat to share your music tastes with your best friends, and strongly believe that there’s no good reason to be so grumpy about a benign music streaming app when everything else happening around the world is complete doo-doo.
But me? I’m somewhere in the middle. Truthfully, I am a bit annoyed by some of the findings in my Spotify Wrapped report (apparently my music archetype is “the Hunter”, which makes me sound a lot cooler than I actually am—“ You’re always searching for new favorites. You skip tracks more than other listeners. Maybe it’s the thrill of the chase?”).
However, Spotify Wrapped is just plain fun, if I’m being honest. The adolescent absurdity of it all is the great appeal. With Spotify Wrapped, I feel transported to my high school years, when I spent my study halls taking one too many Buzzfeed quizzes and stupidly sharing them with my friends. I’ve shared all my Spotify Wrapped data on my Instagram stories, and gotten a lot of fun reactions from my old college friends who are all currently living and working in different corners of the globe—from Brazil to Bulgaria to Brooklyn, New York. Funny jokes and memes about Spotify Wrapped play a not-so-insignificant role in keeping us all in touch.
Could you please pass the eggnog?
One holiday tradition I hold dear to my heart is drinking the divisive winter beverage known as eggnog. I know that lots of people hate eggnog, which is partly why I love it so much–I just love being a contrarian! But the biggest reason why I love eggnog is that I’m a huge sweet tooth, and I always make sure to add copious amounts of vanilla and cinnamon to my homemade eggnog recipe. My dad enjoys his eggnog with rum–much to the annoyance of my mother, who hates seeing alcoholic beverages take up valuable real estate in our already-cramped refrigerator.
But the exact origins of eggnog are unknown. Historians do recognize that the drink has 13th-century English roots, and was originally cultivated as a beverage for aristocrats, before finding its home as a quintessential Christmas drink in colonial America.
As early as the 13th century, medieval British monks drank “posset”, a warm ale punch with eggs and figs. Over time, various historians deduct that milk and wine were eventually added to the mix.
The drink’s popularity then spread to the aristocracy, the only demographic in Britain that could afford the holy trifecta of milk, eggs, and fancy-schmancy alcoholic spirits.
But when the brew hit the Americas, it took on a whole new dimension of popularity. The rum that colonial-era Americans bought from the Caribbean islands was a lot cheaper than imported European drinks, so eggnog with rum became a more democratic drink for all social classes.
Variations of eggnog can be found all around the world: Jews in central Europe, for example, have long enjoyed kogel mogel, an eggbased home dessert that is traditionally viewed in countries like Poland as a folksy sore throat remedy.
In Mexico, rompope is a similar drink to eggnog, but instead adds cinnamon and almonds in contrast to its North American cousin. In Colombia, the Christmas refreshment sabajón adds the national liqueur aguardiente to the mix, whereas Peruvians add their beloved pisco to their ponche de huevo (egg punch).
And in Puerto Rico, coquito reigns supreme. But fun fact–coquito actually doesn’t use eggs but instead utilizes a rich coconut base alongside nutmeg, cinnamon and sweetened condensed milk.
Eggnog can be served cold or hot, although I usually drink mine chilled. I’m not really into adding alcohol to my eggnog, but I do like pairing it with some chocolate chip cookies or vanilla wafers as a snack. I warned you–I love sweets!
But no matter how you enjoy your eggnog, at least we can all agree that storebought eggnog does the drink a disservice. Cheers!
Something borrowed, something new
I was cleaning out my closet this past Sunday when I found this large leather coat in the very back of my messy belongings. I asked my mom about it and she told me it was one of her old coats that she hardly ever wears nowadays (much too long and narrow!). She then just put it in my closet, hoping that I might wear it instead.
She bought the coat back when she lived in New Jersey, which was long before I was born. Once I tried it on, the coat felt immeasurably comfortable and looked chic as heck. Is it just me, or does it feel like coats and other garments from the 1980s and ‘90s were made better? As in, the clothes feel made of a higher quality than similar items in big box chain stores today. My mom’s leather coat looked built to last several lifetimes, whereas a jacket I bought last weekend from Banana Republic has already lost two buttons at the time I’m writing this column.
Why is this the case, I wonder? Some say it’s late stage capitalism, like the kiddos on Tiktok. Some say it’s the push for environmentally sustainable materials, which unfortunately helps create the fashion equivalent of paper straws.
I’m certainly no clothes expert (otherwise I’d be working at Vogue), but maybe it’s C) none of the above. Perhaps it’s our misplaced nostalgia that presumes that everything from the past is/was better than today. I get that sentiment a lot from regulars around the county, those who have welcomed my arrival to the newspaper with open arms even as they stay weary of all the changes going on around them in Richmond Hill and Pembroke.
The clothes maketh the man (or woman)-- but in 2023, our preferred accessories seem to be our anxieties. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to view the past in rose-colored glasses at the risk of missing out on seeing a brighter future.
Andrea Gutierrez is the editor of Bryan County News.